Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Smartmom's Closet

Last night Smartmom cleaned out her closet. Her very packed closet. The closet that is torture to look at, to deal with. The closet that makes her depressed. The closet that causes her to have an anxiety attack every time she gets dressed. The closet that refuses to stay clean.

It is amazing how much that closet can hold. And, god knows, it's not even that big a closet. Strangely shaped, it's about five feet wide and three deep with a fairly high ceiling. The closet underwent a California Closet make-over about seven years ago (before OSFO was born). That make-over was a big improvement as the closet was originally even more nightmarish. Thanks to CC, there are now two levels for hanging racks, numerous shelves and a vertical shoe area.

Still, there is something untenable about that closet. Or is it just that there is something untenable about the clutter that accumulates around a family of four.

Clutter. Not only is the closet stuff full of clothes. It is also full of tax files, magazines, toys, stuffed animals, too-small children's clothing on the way to the thrift shop or Mamainwaiting, video tapes from Smartmom's days in the film and video business, shoes and boots she never wears, children's artwork and OSFO's three dimensional sculptures that are bulky and hard to store.

Smartmom spent part of the evening standing on a chair dealing with the upper half of the closet. It felt liberating to finally toss a great many 3/4 inch video tapes (an outdated video format) that were occupying too much space. She did, however, save a 3/4 inch copy of a documentary film she made years ago called, "In a Jazz Way;" a compilation reel of her best work as producer/director; and a copy of "Caro Nome,"an opera video made by Best and Oldest. In a sense, she felt like she was parting ways with her video career and the possibility that she might go back to it.

As for the clothing, Smartmom was pretty ruthless. If she hadn't worn the item in the last year or two it was a goner. There were some items in there that had survived other purges for reasons of nostalgia - the black velvet jacket and satin pants she wore to the opening of Anna Deavere Smith's play, "Twilight," a production at the Public Theater that Smartmom was involved with; a green plaid Gucci jacket that belonged to her mother; a linen jacket with shoulder pads that screamed: 1980's career girl. But Smartmom was ruthless and they were not spared this go-round.

"Out with you," she said. "Out with you."

Smartmom also tossed her myriad shopping missteps: the black Issac Mizrahi hooded jacket from Target, the green overalls also from Target, the floral linen shirt from City Casuals, the short black jean jacket from The Gap. Anything unflattering. Au Revoir. Everything ugly. See ya. She got rid numerous impulse purchases from Park Slope tag sales and the insidious items she'd collected from others when they were purging their closets.

"Out with you," she said. "Out with you."

Hepcat always get nervous when Smartmom is on one of her de-cluttering rampages. He makes a habit of checking the garbage and all out-going plastic trash bags on a regular basis. Years ago when she threw out a green sweater that she'd worn the first year they met, he picked it out of the trash and took it down to the storage room in the basement for safe keeping. Yes, that was, a very loving gesture. And one that says a great deal about Hepcat's penchant for holding onto things. Call him sentimental, the word packrat comes more quickly to mind.

Late last night, Smartmom perused the bags of tossed clothing and felt little sentimentality. The only item that pulled gently at her heart was the black velvet jacket bought in a rush at Barneys just hours before the aforementioned Public Theater opening. Fingering it she asked plaintively, "Do I really need you?"

"Out with you," she said. "Out with you."

The closet is now, dare she say it, tidy. The accordian files are, for the most part, neatly placed on the top shelf. There are just enough shoes for the shoes shelves. There is even room for a winter coat or two on the clothing rack and she can actually see the floor of the closet. It is a lovely sight that closet floor (she even swept in there. Woulda vacumed except it was too late).

Six white plastic garbage bags sit in the foyer. Tomorrow they will go to the Friends Thrift Shop on Court Street in Cobble Hill, where Smartmom will bid farewell to these old friends, shopping mistakes, shoes that don't fit anymore.

It'll feel good. Very good.

Last night Smartmom cleaned out her closet.

Late breaking news: Beautiful Smile volunteered to bring the bags of clothing to her church in Coney Island, where old clothing, toys and other items are always welcome. The Gucci jacket is headed for one of her granddaughters.


At 1:47 PM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

congratulations on cleaning out your closet. Yes it is good to let go of all the stuff that is just piling up both physically and spiritually - life will go on without that jacket, those shoes, those 3/4 inch tapes. You are making a commitment to making room for new things, a new career, new clothing, new ideas. Have a great holiday season. look forward to your blogs while you are in California.

At 1:40 AM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

Hi Smartmom. Hope you're not planning to take a vacation from your blog. It's 4am, xmas day and I'm disappointed that you haven't posted in a while. Hope you're having fun in CA.


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